Apple and Intel have signed on to be the first adopters of the new 3nm chip. TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co.) will provide the chip production technology and deployment might be as early as next year.
The current chips used in the iPhone 12 are the 5nm TSMC node, which is also used in the M1 chipsets. Next year however, the iPhone 14 will be using a 4nm node, while the next M-series chip will be using the latest 3nm node.
It must be noted that 3nm has no relation to any physical feature on the chip. It is just used to demonstrate an improvement of technology compared to the previous generation. To give some context, in 2012, the latest chips were only using 22nm technology. Intel’s latest Xeon processors that aren’t even out yet use 10nm technology. A lower number indicates higher efficiency in both performance and power consumption, and 3nm is the lowest we have yet to see.
According to TSMC, with 3nm technology, computing performance increases by around 15% compared to 5nm, while also reducing power consumption by around 30%.
The first device fitted with 3nm technology will probably be Apple’s iPad with an M2 chip. Mass production of these chips are expected to begin late 2022.
As Intel also produces chips, this will be both a collaboration and competition with TSMC, as this marks the first time in history that Intel outsources manufacturing for such products. In fact, Intel has ordered more supply of the 3nm chip than Apple, as they are supposedly working on at least two projects that will use it. These projects involve designing CPUs to compete with AMD and Nvidia’s rising market dominance.
As Taiwan is facing a new surge of COVID-19 cases, the timeline for TSMC’s plans is still uncertain, but they have fortunately not been perturbed by the outbreak.
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